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Houston Breakthrough, January 1980
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Houston Breakthrough, January 1980 - Page 25. January 1980. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. December 5, 2019. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/2148/show/2140.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(January 1980). Houston Breakthrough, January 1980 - Page 25. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/2148/show/2140

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough, January 1980 - Page 25, January 1980, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed December 5, 2019, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/2148/show/2140.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough, January 1980
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date January 1980
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women
  • Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
  • Newsletters
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Original Item Location HQ1101 .B74
Original Item URL http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
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Title Page 25
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File Name femin_201109_556ax.jpg
Transcript NUCLEAR An anti-nuclear activist describes the occupation at the Seabrook nuclear plant site BY NIAMI HANSON The seventies began with the anti-war movement and ended with the anti-nuclear movement. Niami Hanson gives a first- person account of the occupation at the Seabrook, New Hampshire, nuclear plant last fall. Hanson is a member of both Mockingbird Alliance, a Houston-based anti-nuclear group, and of the newly- created Bayou City Life Force, committed to anti-nuclear civil disobedience. "In other words/' Hanson says, "Bayou City breaks the law, Mockingbird Alliance does not." She was the only local activist to go to Seabrook. Hanson traveled with members of an anti-nuclear affinity group from Austin to Boston where they left their driver's licenses, credit cards, all means of identification, before proceeding to Seabrook. "It was a strange feeling for me," said Hanson. "I felt like I was losing my own identity. Most of the people took fictitious names in the event of a mass arrest, although we hoped by our numbers to overwhelm the authorities. "It was our plan of action not to get arrested and clog the jails, but rather to occupy Seabrook. We took food, as well as seeds to plant." Direct action in now part of the anti- nuclear movement. Hanson predicts there will be similar occupations at Diablo (California), Comanche Peak (Texas), Black Fox (Oklahoma), Trojan (Oregon) and Bay City (Texas). On October 6, 1979, more than 3,000 concerned individuals gathered at the Seabrook, New Hampshire nuclear plant site to demonstrate once again that nuclear power is ecologically unacceptable and potentially disastrous. This action was different from previous demonstrations at Seabrook and other nuclear locations throughout the country. The strategy this time was to penetrate the fence and physically occupy the plant site until it was shut down forever. This was done successfully in Germany in 1975, when 28,000 people occupied a nuclear plant and lived on site for 18 months. The plant has never been completed. The town of Seabrook, New Hampshire has a population of 6,000 and is located at the southern end of New Hampshire's 18-mile seacoast. The citizens of Seabrook have twice voted against having the plant in their town. Seven nearby towns have also voted against it. New Hampshire residents have fought years of regulatory and licensing proceedings to stop this plant. Ten years of fighting the nuke through the system and years of rallies and demonstrations have accomplished a great deal concern- Niami Hanson, left, anti-nuclear activist. ing public education—but the construction of this nuclear plant continues. The feeling is growing that we must close the nuke ourselves. The occupation at Seabrook began on October 6, 1979 at 4 a.m. It was cold, dark and wet. The occupiers emerged from their campsites with incredible zeal, and the feeling of solidarity was obvious. Affinity groups gathered into two long lines and moved toward the 120-acre core reactor area of the plant; the majority from the south, the others from the north. Dawn emerged during this long procession. It was hilly, sometimes slippery, and there were marsh- holes to be avoided. "Engineering crews" had gone out the day before to build bridges or arrange planks over areas that were treacherous to cross. The beauty of New England in the fall wasn't unnoticed—orange and red leaves on trees, large yellow ferns scattered in contrast with dark, often blackish mud on and off the trail, trees wearing white bark amid evergreens—almost breathtaking—and at this point in time, uncontaminated. Members of the press were walking along these same trails, easily identified by the large yellow name tags they wore on their coats. They dubbed the occupiers a "rag-tag" army. Rag-tag was a true description and meaningful. (The British called the revolutionary colonists a rag-tag army during the American Revolution.) It was daylight as the anti-nuclear armies from the north and south advanced to the core area of the plant site. According to The Real Paper, a Boston weekly, "Cheers went up across a half mile of marsh as the 25% complete unit of the nuclear plant came into view. The giant cranes, the circular reactor containment, and the enormous steel-girder turbine building stood amid brilliant blue and gold lights in the dawn. "It would be beautiful if it wasn't ugly," remarked a woman from Boston. Helicopters were heard and seen continually tracking the activity on the ground for the authorities. The next step was to get to the fence, cut it and enter the site. From this time forward the fence became the symbol. Overwhelming the authorities with huge masses of people and overtaking the plant site without violence were the objectives, but slightly over 3,000 was not enough and the authorities defeated the physical occupation. As the rag-tag army cut the fence, the state police from several states and the National Guard troops stormed through the opened fence clubbing, macing and driving back the occupiers. According to the Boston Globe, "state police had removed their badges, contrary to state law, and the guardsmen had no visible identification aside from rank. Some state police and guardsmen apparently felt they could act outside the law and proceed accordingly. There is at present no authority to police the police." After several hours of cutting fence, talking to police on the other side of the fence, being gassed, maced and beaten, and after many meetings on the marsh, the army was pushed back toward the woods, and the tide came in. The marsh was flooded for several hours. The police were now outside the fence, and the fence seemed further away than ever before. The army talked, sang and slept, waiting for the tide to go out. Then an amazing phenomenon occurred—the occupiers moved out toward the fence again, this time holding hands in an act of love forming a line which reached around the reactor core area—a chain of humanity emerging from what might have been considered defeat. DAY TWO The battlefield was now at the batch plant (a huge concrete mixing plant). The army moved in with arms linked, singing and moving toward the fence. Approximately 60 feet of fence were pulled down, and the authorities moved toward the occupiers. Again the brutality was overwhelming. It was raining and the affinity groups struggled to stay together throughout the confusion. The occupiers remained nonviolent. According to the Real Paper, "About 100 demonstrators sat down and linked arms. They sang "Love Each Other as Ourselves, for We Are One," as the troopers watched them. Medics washed the eyes of the maced. A pouring rain began. People in the march said it was Selma and Birmingham all over." A chant began, "Main Gate! Main Gate!", and the main gate became the next target. Hundreds of occupiers held a vigil at the main gate, where the authorities waited inside. Residents of the little town of Seabrook honked their car horns as they drove by to express unity with this rag-tag army that had invaded their town in an effort to shut down the nuke. Occupiers talked through the fence to the police, trying to reach their humanity. The police usually behaved in a menacing manner, under orders not to communicate with the occupiers. They were protecting the State; they were there because it was their job; they were protecting property. Why is it that property takes priority over human life? They were protecting a nuclear plant that in time could cause their death, the deaths of their unborn children and grandchildren. How can any job mean that much? The Boston Globe reported that "Karen Zwieg, 35, a Boston lawyer who said she has clipped a few strands of fence in the past few days and will save them as souvenirs for her grandchildren, also said she had good experience talking to police along the front lines. 'A few times,' she said, 'I'd walk by and say, "Smile if you'd rather be guarding a solar plant," and some of them did smile.' " News from the north revealed that the occupiers there fared worse than those at the batch plant. An occupier from New York reported, "We were cutting fence when the cops chased us through the woods, maced some in the face repeatedly, attacked medics, threw their supplies in the swamp and drove us into the swamp." While these activities continued, other occupiers roamed through the woods hiding from helicopters and cutting more fence for a later date. DAY THREE There was still a vigil at the main gate. Ten occupiers tried to chain themselves to the post of the gate and police maced them. Among the 10 was a couple in their 60's. State troopers again wore no identification. Then the authorities closed in from the street behind the occupiers and made it impossible for them to hold the gate. It was over. DAY FOUR It was extremely cold and raining heavily. Many occupiers had left, the majority of the others were packing. The "kitchen" was still in operation. A man approximately 30 years old was standing in line for coffee. His head was bandaged from a wound received at the batch plant two days before, and his glasses were broken. He summed up the occupation this way, "It lasted only three days but we made a statement, and the world was watching. It's up to everyone ** to take a stand." He drank coffee and continued, "An effort was made in this country to occupy and live in a nuclear plant site until it shut down. This was the first attempt, and we learned a lot. I'll be back next time—I want to be there when we get through the fence. I want to plant a tree on the other side of that fence." The hour-long drive back to Boston was dismal. The New England countryside was just as beautifulSps before, but no one paid much attention to it—everyone had private thoughts. I'm proud to have been a "rag-tag" soldier in this army of over 3,000 striving toward a stable, ecologically balanced environment and demanding a sane energy program. HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH 25 DECEMBER/JANUARY 1980